MPs shocked by AG report

2016-04-15 18:30
(Picture: Lucky Nxumalo)

(Picture: Lucky Nxumalo)

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Cape Town - Ghost housing recipients, ginger beer bottles installed as hand washing fittings and hand-picked contractors who failed to do the work.

These were just some of the horrors contained in reports from the auditor general's office on Friday in a presentation to Parliament on the red flags in some government departments.

"When we see these kinds of reports we are really horrified," said Ndabakayise Gcwabaza, chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations.

Concerns raised in the 2014/15 audit outcomes of the departments of water and sanitation, human settlements, public works, health and education had MPs gasping.

This is some of what they heard:

A crucial 2010 Department of Human Settlements programme to build toilets in all provinces left people with structures so shoddily put together that in one case half a plastic Stoney ginger beer bottle was passed off as a handwashing installation.

Some of the toilets slanted so badly that people had to hold on to the seat so as not to fall off.

The team selected for that project appeared to have been hand-picked by the bid evaluation committee and background checks were done too late to discover that two of the directors had already been blacklisted.

'Deceased people were recorded as beneficiaries'

But they then carried on with the lucrative work, eventually finishing only 46% of the project, but getting 95% of the money.

"The work supposed to be done by the project manager was either done by the department or not done at all," said a senior manager at the Office of the Auditor General, Nomsa Mlotshwa.

The project has been shunted between the Departments of Human Settlements and water and sanitation, and is now back with water and sanitation.

The committee heard that a health department IT project was such a catastrophe that systems could not connect to each other to retrieve patient information or update pricing codes properly, making it hard to invoice accurately.

Anti-retrovirals were not always delivered and supplier delays were not always reported.

Healthcare waste was not always stored by the contractors in required containers and was not always disposed of in designated areas. Expired medicine was also not properly disposed of.

In the Extended Public Works Programme, which is touted as one of government's job creation arms, auditors could not substantiate job creation claims.

"We found that the work opportunities were overstated," said Dipallo Shea, a senior manager in the AG's department dealing with the department of public works.

"Deceased people were recorded as beneficiaries, beneficiaries on the reporting system did not have valid identity numbers and beneficiaries were paid below minimum wage."

'I think we are following the money too late'

Also in the Department of Public Works, inspection plans for state-owned properties were so neglected and inadequate that an inspection had to be carried out.

The auditors found that payments were being made for unoccupied buildings, even though the management of government accommodation has been in focus for years.

An audit of housing showed evidence of dead people being allocated houses and people getting houses they were not entitled to.

By the time the briefing was over, National Freedom Party MP Sheik Imam told the officials they should have brought a psychologist along for them.

DA MP Alan Mcloughlin said: "I think we are following the money too late. The money has been spent already. It confirms what we suspected, but hoped was not the truth."

The committee agreed to meet again to arrange a meeting with the departments whose programmes had been red-flagged.

Read more on:    cape town  |  parliament 2016

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